Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hard Work Takes Care of Itself

"To find a career to which you are
adapted by nature,
and then to work hard at it,
is about as near to a formula
for success and happiness
as the world provides.
One of the fortunate aspects
of this formula is that,
granted the right career has been found,
the hard work takes care of itself.
Then hard work is not hard work at all."

Mark Sullivan
(Thoughts on Success, Thoughts And Reflections From History's Great Thinkers)

I'm a writer. That's the career path I've chosen. Or was it the path that chose me? This is what I'm pondering today. How much of who we are as a person is wrapped up in our career choices?

In the process of cleaning out my study and reorganizing my bookcases, I've discovered interesting things about my journey as a writer. Years ago, I was hungry. I read everything there was to know about being a writer and took a great number of online courses to better educate myself on the in's and out's of writing. You see, I've always believed there was a formula for success. All one had to do was discover the basis for that formula, act upon it, and then... voila!

Mark Sullivan's quote offers truth to my theory, with a twist. The formula isn't how to, it's why.

Why do writers write?  Is it the instant gratification?  No.  Illusions of grandeur?  No.  Writers write because they have to. Characters and stories refuse to be silenced. They clammor to be written and fleshed out onto the page. Fully formed images ride a writer's psyche until the writer is broken like a bucking Bronco, sits in front of a computer or a pad of paper, and attempts to do the work needed to bring them to life.  It's easy to understand why some writers have become tortured souls. Hemmingway and Edgar Allan Poe anyone?

Being a writer also means embracing solitude. For introverts, that's easy. For others, those wonderful extroverts, not so much. The job is a lonely one, often only visited upon by invisible friends and interrupted by unwelcome telemarketer phone calls.  The quest for perfection is an endless task. But oh! how real and tangible those friends can be when the writing flows and the story reveals itself!

As my office evolves into a place I can go to for quiet reflection and communing with the muse, I'm not only seeing a more organized space, I'm privy to the growth I've made as a writer. Many successful writers say that to be a good writer, you must write a million words.  A million words!  Sounds like a lot of hard work, doesn't it?

Sullivan says, hard work is not hard work at all when you love what you're doing.

Do you love what you're doing?  What career path have you chosen?  And has the hard work been worth it?


  1. Well, I've been all over the map with jobs myself. I studied Graphic Design in college. My counselor pulled me aside after career assessment tests to inform me that my true calling was in the library world. I laughed at him at the time and then at myself when I hired on at the library. And though I loved working as a librarian, the characters in my head plead to be heard. And so I write.

    But of the menagerie of jobs I've held in the past, my favorites were first and foremost as Mom (I know it doesn't need to be said, but it's so true.), with a very close second being the art gallery at the university. That was FUN!

    My least favorites were food services and the amusement park. There's a reason I am not allowed to work with machinery. Especially not mixed with children and parents of young children. Sigh.

    And then there were the bees. Let me just say, if you want to draw bees to yourself, break out some snow cone syrup. They'll be swarming towards you in no time.....

    1. As I'm learning more and more about you, Lesia, I'm amazed by how much alike we really are!

      As you know, I started out as an artist. Waffled between Fashion Design, Advertising, Interior Design and Art, earlier on. Tests said I should make my living as a starving artist. Let me tell you how demoralizing that was to a young woman with big dreams, trying to find her way in the world.

      As a Mom, I've held a menagerie of volunteer positions. My favorite job was working at an Army Museum in Kansas. I loved that job! There are still exhibits there that I helped create to this day.

      I've also peddled my fair share of cotton candy and snow cones for cheerleaders. ;)

  2. Nothing compares to being a writer. Even if we never sale. Though I don't believe that.

    Also, I have never read any books on being a writer or how to write--except random parts like how to do a synopsis, query, etc. Maybe I should. But I can't today. I need to write.

    1. Jean, you have an English degree and you were a Librarian. I don't think you need to read how-to books. ;)

      And you're right. Nothing compares to being a writer!

  3. Like Lesia I have had many jobs through the years, including one summer as a car hop at a drive-in complete with roller skates.

    I think that writing is somewhat of a calling. Until you finally give in and do it the voices just nag at you.

    1. Car hop? How cool is that! Did you get lots of blisters from your skates?

      Writing is a calling, isn't it? And those voices can nag you to death!

    2. Stephanie, I bet you gave wings to the idea of beauty in motion! I can so see you dashing around and taking care of everyone! Oh wait...you still do that, no wheels necessary!

    3. Doesn't she? LOL! And she's just as fast too. ;)

  4. On voices, let me just add....I have a very vivid memory of when I was about 12 years old post my first Harlequin novel. See, dear old Mom was desperate to find something I would actually read. Jack London and Beverly Cleary had failed her miserably (I preferred picture books).

    But the memory is of me riding in the backseat of the family car headed to my grandparents place in Arkansas. I can see the pictures of the story (not the landscape passing by) and hear the voices still to this day. I should've known to write, even then. I'm glad I know now.

    1. That's so cool that you have that memory, Lesia!

  5. Originally I thought I wanted to be a reporter. I loved writing the news stories, fancying myself as the next Woodward or Bernstein. But I then I discovered the LAW. I became an Assistant United States Attorney at the time when Miami Vice was big. It was exciting and fun. Then I became a mother and that job held it's challenges. Now, I am finally able to do something I always wanted to do - write the stories that rattle around in my head. And, yes, the characters keep talking until you give them a voice on paper.

    1. I bet you could've given Bernstein and Woodward a run for their money, too! ;)

    2. Journalism has its appeal, doesn't it? Robert Redford & Dustin Hoffman, 1970's. ;)